Indeed… the structure of UBA building was the state of the art!
On February 28, 2019, 22 explorers from 22 different countries reached Dessau – a town at the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe in the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. We were all excited for our first over-night stay excursion to UBA, but have never thought to see such a higher environmental standard in construction and operation of a scientific building in a small town – Dessau. Incredible eco-friendly architecture, innovative landscape design, energy efficient structure and a blend of seven families of color, the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) in Dessau was undoubtedly an amazing place to explore.
Just besides the old Wörlitzer Bahnof, one can see a gateway to the a snake shape UBA building on the right side and a stand-alone canteen, a public park, yew sculpture, crossword puzzle, distinct boulders and a fascinating pond with nesting boxes, hotel for insects and home for beautiful ducks, on the left side.
Before entering to the UBA building, a group photo of the exciting faces was necessary.
It is very difficult to decide that what was the first attraction for all of us while entering the building auditorium. Was it the beautiful glass shed roof, colorful facades, environmental library, wind node booth or the LCD screen with photovoltaic system dash board. An interesting fact of this auditorium was that anyone could enter into that area without any prior appointment to observe the beauty of the building and gain access to the biggest environmental library of German speaking world.
After exploring these amazing features of the Auditorium, we finally moved towards the conference room for a series of lectures. But wait, an interesting feature yet to be explored here was ‘the LCD screen traces’ left by the visitors, symbolizing the changeable influence on the world. Another eye-catching art!
The two days, full of knowledge exchange covered some thought-provoking themes such as climate change adaptation, water resource management, green economy, energy transition and so on. The day started with a presentation on UBA ‘Who we are and what we do?’ by Mr. Wollmann. It was very interesting to know that UBA is a Germany’s central administrative authority and is the state’s largest scientific agency with over 1,400 employees at 13 different locations. In addition to the scientific work, the agency enforces environmental laws and work for public disclosure and facilitates access to information. It was very impressive to see the many environmental problems UBA manages! The next presentation was by Ms. Schwetje who introduced us with a concept of short-lived climate pollutants and gave an overview of an ongoing initiative of Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to reduce these pollutants. It was new to most of us that many of our countries are already part of this coalition. At the end of her presentation, she highlighted the resource and climate protection through integrated waste management projects in developing countries, which led to an interactive questions and answers session. Afterwards, we went to the beautiful canteen of UBA to recharge our body and mind. Adaptation to Climate Change, Hazard Prevention and Safety of Installations and Water Resource Management were the post-lunch sessions by Mr. Haße, Mr. Winkelmann-Oei and Mr. Bernd respectively, which provided us a bunch of useful information and potential solutions for our countries. The day did not end here! All of us met for a lovely dinner and chatted extensively on how much we learnt. Next day, we continued our journey of learning more.
How can green economy contribute to sustainable development is a much spoken debate now a days. Mr. Bünger, in his presentation, highlighted the concepts of Green Transformation and Green Skills in context of economy and environment. He also introduced the six green lead markets in Germany and strategies to promote green economy. This important lecture could not have ended without having questions from the participants. When we talk about sustainability, Resource Utilization is an important topic to be discussed. Mr. Nuss highlighted this concept through some global facts and figures. The best part of this presentation was to know about the Material Flow Assessment of the respective countries of all participants. Thanks to Mr. Nuss for bringing up this issue on board. Policy plays an important role in balancing social, environmental and economic activities in order to foster sustainable development. Considering this crucial role of policy making, Ms. Schubert presented the role of UBA as an actor of federal policy for sustainable urban development and share the concept of Tomorrow’s Cities. After having Lunch at UBA canteen, we all gathered for a guided tour of UBA building. I must say that this was the most awaited session of our visit. Thanks to Mr. Bösecke who managed to answer a ton of questions of all participants. Why the small town Dessau was chosen for UBA office was something we all wanted to know. The famous quote of Winston Churchil “we shape our building, and they shape us” is probably the best answer for it. The UBA building is currently situated on a former industrial area of Dessau which was highly contaminated by volatile halogenated and petroleum hydrocarbons. Soil and ground water remediation, ecofriendly construction and liveable working space gives impressive example of possibilities (and challenges) for sustainable urban development. Our excitement did not end here. Mr. Bösecke showed us impressive working environment for employees, green spaces, beautiful plants and trees, and two water basins while walking through communicating staircases and bridges. We were amazed to see that everything in the UBA building had a message to convey. Water ponds helped to reflect sunlight and provide a pleasant acoustic background music. Amorphous green areas with a bed of mineral substrate maintained indoor climate for plant growth whereas flooring of recyclable glass showed the artistic use of waste. The entire building was designed keeping in mind the accessibility. Moreover, the seven colors of facades are also symbolize sky (blue), greenery (shades of green) and old building’s brickwork (purple-red). The use of solar heat collectors, photovoltaic system and the geo thermal heat exchanger along with district heating system was also state of the art.
Last but not the least, the day ended with an energizing presentation by Mr. Werlein on Energy Transition in Germany. It was indeed a wonderful excursion which we will never forget. Special thanks to CIPSEM for organizing such a fun trip filled with knowledge.
by Saba Raffay (Pakistan) and Oleksandra Logunova (Ukraine)